We had a nice surprise for all our dads and nurturing men this Father’s Day. Here’s my brief reflection that I shared with our fathers.
Men know that if they want to be successful, you have to have the right contacts. I am blessed since moving out of the city and into the country that I have several men who provide the guidance and wisdom I need to survive in the country.
One man is the chief of the volunteer fire department. He would call on me if there were any fatality to provide support for his brave firefighters. In return, he is a master mechanic and if something goes wrong with my tractor, I would call him and he would come to me rescue. One time he came at five in the morning to plow out the driveway since I was out of town on a critical incident. He noticed that I didn’t have backup lights for the tractor and found it difficult to see. This Spring he installed backup lights so that I can see where I am going in the dark. That’s just like Jesus who helps us at times when we are in they dark; his words of wisdom help us find our way when we are in a jam. And most men find themselves in lots of jams.
Then I have a neighbor who has lived his lifetime in a farming community and he has lots of contacts. I needed some wood chips, not just a wheelbarrow full, but truck loads. No problem, He called his friend and the chips keep coming. When I needed some instruction on how to use my tractor to level the driveway, he came to show me how to use the bucket and it was the first time I heard of the phase “float.” The meaning has nothing to do with wading in a pool. Is that not why Jesus came into the world; to give men the tools they need to be successful. It might be a lesson on forgiveness, or how to be more patient with people, or a simple lesson in learning to let go of past hurts and walking with the Lord.
Then I recently met two experienced woodmen who taught me how to use a chainsaw. This is what every father wants for Father’s Day. A noisy machine that can tear things up in a hurry. These men taught this apprentice priest to have great respect for a chainsaw that can tear you apart in an instant. It’s the same in our relationships, one word can tear apart years of friendship. We have to be on our guard to watch our anger and resentments that we don’t get out of control. Once again, we look to Jesus who taught the proper way to use our tools of life so that we do no harm to others and learn to grow in patience and understanding.
I am most humbled by my spiritual mentor. He has had his share of physical problems in recent years, but instead of resentment, he puts his faith and trust in God. He literally knows how to relax and let God do all the worrying for him. This brings him great peace of mind as he has brought to my life.
Finally, I thought about my dad, who never got to see me ordained a priest, but he has always been a guiding mentor throughout my years of ministry.
I miss him very much but he taught me to have respect for older mentors. I am humbled by the men who serve as my guides and grateful for sharing their practical wisdom and experience.
One memory that I have of my dad is going to the Polish Broadway Market in Buffalo. After Easter grocery shopping, we would have lunch at the Shopper House that featured roast beef on kimmelweck bread and birch beer.
I was told there is one special brand of birch beer called Pennsylvania Dutch that is the best! It was not available at Wegman’s but they had other brands. But I’m stubborn and wanted the best for our dads. So I got online and found Pennsylvania Dutch headquarters in New Jersey and called customer service. They told me to contact like “Patty’s Pantry’ and the “Red Bird Market” but these were mom and pop stores that carried only a few cans. The search expanded to Warsaw and Albion. It was in Albion, that Paul the owner had 150 cans of Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer waiting for me at his checkout counter in Albion.
So in honor of my dad, I invited all 21 dads and nurturing men into the sanctuary to receive a “Birch Beer and Papa Blessing” in appreciation for making room in their busy lives for Papa God.
“We give our thanks, Creator God, for the fathers in our lives. Our dads who took us out for our favorite kimmelweck sandwich and birch beer.
Fatherhood does not come with a manual, and reality teaches us that some fathers excel while others fail. We ask for Your blessings for them all – and forgiveness where it is needed.
This Father’s Day we remember the many sacrifices fathers make for their children and families, and the ways – both big and small – they lift children to achieve dreams thought beyond reach.
So too, we remember all those who have helped fill the void when fathers pass early or are absent – grandfathers and uncles, brothers and cousins, teachers, pastors and coaches – and the women of our families.For those who are fathers, we ask for wisdom and humility in the face of the task of parenting. Give them the strength to do well by their children and by You by your love bless them always.